What literacy means to me

Posted: Monday, April 17, 2000

McGuffey's Eclectic Readers...cloth bound books with a distinctive odor from years of little hands turning pages. Today, nearly 50 years later, I still recall the smell, the feel, the delight that those little books gave me.

My mother read to me often, and when there were no books nearby, she would open the treasure trove of her memory and recite. She instilled in me a love for how words sound.

A small, privately owned, library filled wall to wall with B-O-O-K-S, was one of my favorite after-school hideaways. I would wander row to row, running my fingers over well-used and worn spines, until one book would draw me in: Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, my favorite, "Red Shoes for Nancy".

Today I am happy reading a romantic poem or a tragic play; a murder mystery or an autobiography. My interest can be piqued when a grandchild crawls into my lap to share the escapades of Madeline, Harry Potter, or The Cat in the Hat.

Walking into a bookstore or into the Kenai Community Library sets my senses tingling. I am surrounded by friends, many of whom I have yet to meet, all of whom hold a mystery for me.

Choosing ONE, while daunting, is made easier because my mother, by reading to me, instilled a love for the written word in me. It is made easier because teachers patiently taught me the phonetic pronunciation of words and how to string them together forming sentences and paragraphs.

Literacy? It means a world opened just for me, drawing me into its center, giving me a tour through its many mazes. A world of imagination and color, tears, joy and laughter, and faraway places. A world that I can pass on to my children and grandchildren.

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